Livni to Ban: Extremists destroy chances for peace

Opposition leader thanks UN chief for visiting southern communities, condemning rocket attacks from Gaza.

Livni Abbas meeting in Amman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy Kadima Spokesmans office)
Livni Abbas meeting in Amman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy Kadima Spokesmans office)
The increasing power of extremists in the region is shrinking the window of opportunity available for a diplomatic settlement with the Palestinians, opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Israel Wednesday.
"There is an urgent need to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians...we must strive to achieve [a settlement] with moderates in the region before it is too late," Livni said.
The UN chief was in Israel as part of a Middle East tour in which he also visited the Gaza Strip, controlled by Israel's archenemy Hamas - an Islamist group that has gained regional clout since the Palestinian Authority agreed to its inclusion in a unified Palestinian government.
Livni, often vociferously critical of the Netanyahu government, has claimed the Likud-led coalition is not serious about pursuing peace with the Palestinians. She met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman in November 2011, prior to last month's low-level exploratory talks, where she encouraged the PA president to fight Islamic extremism and avoid unilateral steps towards statehood.
The opposition leader also thanked Ban for his comments Thursday condemning rocket attacks by terrorists in Gaza on Israel, a day after a rocket salvo was fired from the Strip into the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council.
Ban visited the Spair Academic College near Sderot, which has been the target of numerous Kassam rockets from Gaza.
"Israeli citizens appreciate the fact that you came to visit the towns bombarded and spoke firmly against the firing [of rockets]," Livni told Ban.